Marketers and information technology departments are joined at the hip today, with IT leaving behind its singular focus on back-office operations and increasingly enabling customer information and service.
That was the message delivered at the Marketing+Technology Summit, a half-day event jointly sponsored by BtoB and sibling publication Advertising Age, to kick off Internet Week New York.
“Five years ago we had only a handful of people handling our website,” said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions. “Today, 18% to 20% of the entire marketing staff is working on technology enablement for marketing, sales and customers.”
Conrado said his unusual title and joint areas of responsibility came about after Motorola Solutions split off from what is now Motorola Mobility in 2011.
“We decided then that it made no sense for marketing and IT to be separate, so they were combined,” Conrado said. But that approach is not a common one, he said, citing studies that showed only 6% of companies have IT departments that support business initiatives rather than their traditional operational tasks.
“In my view, that should be more than 50%,” he said.
Creating better cooperation between marketing and IT departments poses challenges, according to summit presenters.
“The pervasiveness of technology not only is changing our lives but also corporate America,” said Michael Keller, CIO at Nationwide Mutual Insurance, a presenter along with Nationwide CMO Matthew Jauchius. “We believe in some companies the overlap will cause conflict and confusion, but, if done right, it can create competitive advantages.”
Jauchius said, “We tend to be the best customer of the CIO because we are the first to see the possibilities of such technology as Big Data, analytics, social media and cloud technology.”
Presenter Sheryl Pattek, VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research, kicked off her talk citing statistics from a recent BtoB study, “Defining the Modern Marketer: From Real to Ideal.” According to the study (based on an online survey conducted in January that drew 556 respondents), the ability to track marketing ROI through technology is the most important change contributing to the evolution of the marketing profession.
Pattek stressed that marketers should not focus on technological packages and tools but rather on planning, which needs to come first.
“First, you have to understand the buyer's journey, then determine your must-haves,” Pattek said. “Avoid going it alone. Focus on these things with your CIO, and only then build your marketing technology roadmap. Marketers who focus on point solutions do so at their peril.”